Thursday, January 31, 2013

French Fridays with Dorie: Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote.

While working on my end-of-last-year business paperwork I was dreaming about what might go well with Dorie’s brown-sugar squash and Brussels sprouts en papillote.  I’ve been so busy I’ve not cooked dinner for the past two days; leftovers have reached their limit.  The foil packets of vegetables will not stand on their own, but they would be a tasty side for to an outdoor meal.

I decided to cook them the campfire way.  When our kids were younger they used to enjoy “tin foil dinners” where we made a variety of tasty meals such as chicken and veges all wrapped up in foil to be cooked in the hot coals from a nice fire.  Well, I did not build the fire, but I did turn on the outdoor grill, put on my vege packets along with some steaks, and voila, dinner was done.

While snipping my sage I noticed that our past several days of rain had done wonders for my lettuce patch, so I picked some of that too.  Instead of making a fancy salad, I chose to let Dorie’s veges be the star and the lettuce could be just lettuce this time.  And being freshly picked it was sweet and juicy and crisp; any accompaniment would have been a distraction.

With hot homemade bread and freshly  made strawberry jam ( I paid $8 for enough strawberries to make 32 cups of jam and right now the berries are sweet and beautiful) we had a great meal and I had a pleasurable distraction.  After an afternoon of cooking I’m recharged to get back to work in the morning and will endure another no dinner day.  (I made extra vege packets for tomorrow...with all the snacking during work we’ll have something to grab that’s healthy.)

(One of my comfort foods is the foam that gets  skimmed  of the top of  finished jam just before it gets jarred.  Must be something from my childhood  memories when my mom gave me my own bowl of one else wanted it.  How could they not love that sweet, airy, fruity foam?  It’s what prompted today’s bread...that’s what you see in the photo and that’s why this spread is not bright red strawberry jam.)

Hubby–I usually don’t honestly enjoy  Brussels sprouts, but with the apple and the seasonings, this arrangement is outstanding!  And I really love the squash.  I”ll be happy to have another one tomorrow.

No. 2 Son–upon opening the packet–Ahhh.  This smells like soap from those new soap shops where they use farm grown herbs and spices to scent their bathroom products.  It does smell really good.  (I didn’t know if I liked that comment, but it was meant to be complimentary.)

It was a lovely idea to let my eaters open their foil packages.  That initial whif from the steamy veges  enveloped by the aroma of fresh sage was really nice!

Hope you all enjoyed this simple project as much as we did!  Now that we’ve all had our veges we can enjoy guiltless Superbowl  junkfood.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Basked Sunday Mornings: Sunday Night Cake


January is a strange weather month.  A week ago we had record breaking freezing temps for a week, then we enjoyed record breaking warm, sunny days...85^ here in Gilbert, AZ.  Beautiful!  Now it is raining and will continue to rain for a couple of days  Although rain is always celebrated in the desert, the past two days have been very dreary especially after Mother Nature teased us with such beautiful weather for a few, it's a good indoor baking day.  

It's Saturday afternoon.  Hubby and No. 2 Son keep asking what kind of cake I am baking.  I keep telling them  that it is a Sunday Night Cake.  They are worried that I plan to make them wait until Sunday night before they can dig in. 

The kiddies are on their way over to eat their cakes.  They love it when I make them each their own.  And since we are chocolaholics they'll love their cakes dripping with this pudding-like chocolate frosting.

For today, I doubled the recipe, made a large heart-shaped cake and 3 individual cakes for those little people coming to share.  The best part is the frosting!  I made enough to pour more on each sliced piece.  I'll be interested to see how the leftovers hold up overnight...too big for my stuffed fridge.  I don't know that the frosting would be a good idea in the hot AZ summers...this is the perfect time of year for this treat.

Hubby enjoyed the cinnamon spice in the cake  as well as the rich chocolate frosting.  I baked the cake as directed by the Baked boys with the generous addition of vanilla extract to both the cake and to the frosting.  I don't know that I would personally love this cake without the frosting; with only a dusting of confectioners' sugar instead.  Oh, one more change.  I did not have unsweetened chocolate in the house and I was not in the mood to brave the rain, so I used a wonderful bar of 72% chocolate in my frosting and I must say that it was perfect.  I never mind a little extra sweet in my frosting.

Hope you all enjoyed this dessert.  For sure I'll made this frosting again.  I can envision this cake with lots of whipped cream and needs something moist and fluffy, or maybe a rich cup of cocoa would be a good pairing with a plain version of this cake. 

Looking forward to Superbowl Sunday and Cheesy Focaccia!  "See" you all then.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

French Friday with Dorie: Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles

I had a little fun with today’s Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles.  (And because 2 CUPS of tomato puree sounds gross in a stir fry that is even "just-remotely Chinese"....I went on a search.)

I had read through the recipe earlier in the week and knew that I needed a few ingredients that might be common in a French/Chinese pantry, but not in mine.  I’m always happy when I read through an ingredient list and find that everything I need is in my fridge or pantry...both seem to overflow all the time.  But sometimes it is part of our fun or our learning experience to stretch out into new ingredients and ideas.  For today I did not have the mushrooms, noodles, fresh five-spice powder (threw away a jar that was at least 10 years old), or shrimp.  But I did not write down my needs before leaving the house early this morning for meetings, and thought I could just stop by the market on my way home and pick up a few remembered items.  I did remember “stir-fry,” and to me, that usually means lots of veges and some type of meat with lots of rice or noodles.

So, I picked up a variety of ingredients that I thought sounded good in a stir fry, remembered the noodles, spice and shrimp, and then drove home.  Before beginning to cook, I carefully read the recipe and was a bit at a loss.  Hummm...not my vision.  Hubby, who lived in Singapore for a couple of years just before I met him, was also not tuning into the right vision for Dorie’s stir fry.  He had been getting excited about a different type of stir fry.

I phoned Emy-Lou-Who, my daughter, who a few years ago lived for 18 months in Taiwan and is a great Chinese food cook and her hubby, Tommy was also at home.  His father is from Laos and his mother is Chinese, raised in Thailand.   Emy sounded terrible; has a bad cold, but she was excited to give insights into today’s menu.  I had a few wrong ideas.

First of all, the “slithery, translucent noodles” had only Chinese writing on the package and no directions for cooking, even in Chinese.  I guess these noodles are so common in the Asian culture that the noodle producers assume that those who purchase their noodles automatically know how to cook them.  And how many Arizona Americans actually cook with them?  Only Asians  or adventurous cooks like us.  Not your typical Southwestern fare.  (Chinese food is for take out or is restaurant food...too much chopping and too many unusual ingredients.)  (I had a neighbor ask me last week if I would teach her to cook rice...plain rice.  She is in her 70's, raised two boys, and has yet to learn to cook rice.   Solution:  she went out and purchased a rice cooker at Costco because her first attempt, after I told her simply what to do, failed.)

Tommy advised that I put the noodles that I wanted for immediate use in a large bowl, pour boiling water on them, and let them sit for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring them with a chop stick a few times.  Then drain the noodles and rinse them a few times with cold water which stops the cooking process and also keeps them from sticking together.  The noodles just need to quickly soften and they are ready.

I had googled recipes for "shrimp and cellophane noodles" and found an ingredient list similar to Dorie’s but for a soup instead of a stir fry.  I would basically prepare all the ingredients the same way, but instead of stir frying, I would first make a flavorful broth, then use the same "glass" noodles and Dorie's other ingredients,  but instead, have a soup.  This appealed to me as I listened to pour, sick Emy, and knew I should take a pot of healthy soup to her tomorrow...a stir fry would be good right after cooking but would not keep well.  A pot of  soup would serve a second purpose.

So I explained my idea to Emy and she said, “Oh you want to make pho.” 
“Pho. It is Tommy’s dad’s favorite food.  Every time he goes out to dinner, that’s what he orders.”
“How do you spell that?”
“P-H-O.  Pronounced Fu...with a u like how it sounds in duck, pho.”
“Oh yea, the package has the word pho as the middle word in the title for these noodles.”
“They are great noodles.  They make super stir frys and great pho, or soup.  They will be un-pho-gettable.”
“You can call your soup, ‘Shrimp Pho You.’”
“More ha-ha.”

I asked what they thought about an addition of more vegetable varieties.  I was told that it’s soup, I can add whatever I want.  Or it could be stir fry and I could still add whatever I want.

So, choosing to make the soup, or pho, I made my stock by simmering a whole chicken and flavoring the broth with chopped onion, minced garlic, minced hot chilis, 5 spice power, minced ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, Hoisin sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, lime juice, toasted sesame oil, cayenne pepper, and chili sauce.  (Are you as impressed as I that all these are in my cupboard?)

Then I chopped or sliced scallions, more onion, a carrot, celery, extra firm tofu, cooked chicken, lots of cilantro, zucchini, mushrooms, and I cooked my shrimp.

As instructed, I used a large soup bowl and added a bottom layer of my cooked noodles.  Then I layered  the raw veges,  the cooked meats and tofu, and finished with a garnish of unchopped scallions  and lots of cilantro.  After all this was in my bowl I poured boiling hot broth over my pho choices, added an additional squeeze of lime juice, and sat down to enjoy my efforts.  (Amazing how my veges became instantly almost cooked!  About the same as with a quick stir fry.)

This dish has many layers of flavors that include spicy, sweet, sour, and salty.  There are also many textures with the fun “glass” noodles, the not-quite-cooked veges, the meats, the garnishes and the broth.  It all comes together in a fabulous bowl filled with ingredients that work together in a way that has become Tommy’s dad’s all-time favorite food.  I’m sure that because many of these ingredients were used in the stir fry the same sensations with taste and texture as well as smell were shared.  I did not use the tomato puree, but did use everything else.

It sounds like a lot, but all this family meal took only 45 minutes to prepare  (after the chicken  had simmered long enough to be viewed as “done” so I could have stock) and to be ready to eat.  Not bad for a very healthy and extremely delicious pho with so many items on its ingredient list.   And, for my first try, I declare that my pho was amazing and, I think, quite beautiful.

I feel confident that my “Asian” kids will also really enjoy this pho tomorrow.  (I chopped extras.  The noodles, I now know take only 30 seconds to cook with boiling hot water.  I’ll drop off all the components, they can re-boil the flavorful broth and build more pho in just minutes.)

Emy educated me that pho is a simple “poor people” food used as an ordinary meal.  It is common that  very few veges are used.  Meat makes this dish expensive, and actually the meats used are commonly the “mystery meats” or tripe.  My pho would be an expensive variety with both chicken and shrimp and a variety of lovely veges.  These same ingredients used in a stir fry are also common “poor people” food, yet most everyone loves these dishes.

It was fun to put a different twist on today’s Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles.  I learned a few things and my results are extraordinary.   I know why most folks order Chinese take out food: the ingredient list is long, there appears to be lots of chopping, and there are many items that are uncommon...the first time I used fish sauce was way back in that beginning Dorie recipe....I’m still using my first purchased bottle. 

Since I went rogue on this dish, I'll be very interested to view your stir fry results.  These are great flavors, I do enjoy more veges, and with some of my tweaks, I'll be making the stir-fry version too...soon!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tuesdays with Julia and Dorie: French Apple Tart


We, especially Hubby, love fruit tarts at our house.  Today's Contributing Baker, Leslie Mackie, instructs us in how to bake a beautiful FRENCH APPLE TART.  

Because I have a large family and had several home for dinner, I chose to bake a 10" tart which created a larger middle space; too large for a rosette as lovely as in the provided photograph.

I bake pies and tarts often...sometimes 50 or 75 at a time.  I enjoy baking pies for church dinners or for the trendy wedding receptions of friend's children and for a nephew who choose wedding pie over wedding cake...I do it just for fun. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, I'm sure we ate over 35 pies at home.  I'm not professional, but I do know good pie. 

With that in mind, I will critique today's pie.

The crust was lovely (and not as dark as my photo makes it appear), however, because of an applesauce like filling below the lovely apple rosette topping, and with several juicy apples on top, the juices from the apples caused the crust to absorb a little too much moisture to remove cleanly and without cracking from the tart pan.  Even with two bakings, (first for the crust alone and second as a filled tart) this tart did not perfectly remove from the's OK, but not satisfactory to me.  And I do not like soggy crust!  Not even a little bit soggy!  (Maybe my bread crumbs were not "fluffy" enough?  Needed something a little more absorbent.) 

Because we love apple pie, I was honestly excited to try a new apple pie-like recipe.  We have our standard favorites, but I enjoy trying new pie recipes and ideas...some become new favorites.

With a very healthy bam of confectioner's sugar,  a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel, this was a wonderful dessert, but without that extra sweetness I did not care for this tart.  A tart made with Granny Smith apples and fresh lemon juice is simply too tart.  If I had used, instead, an apple such as a Golden Delicious, I would have enjoyed the simple apple flavor much better.

I'm not the only one with these thoughts.  At least a third of this lovely pie went to the trash, and that never happens here.  It was nice for a taste, and for something different.  It was pretty to see, but not up to my standards.

Interested to see how your baking turned out.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins

One of my pleasures is spending every Wednesday with Honey.  She's been my Baked buddy from the beginning.  Starting out as a propped up baby in a high chair, she is now my special helper who will turn 3 in less than two months.

Honey loves nuts, and pistachios are a favorite. She can dump ingredients into a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients, stir the wet, and fold them all together.  And she can do the decorating.  All the pistachio pieces on the muffin tops are by Honey.

Honey loves to be the taster.  She also likes to touch, and smell, and taste our food, and she always loves to take whatever we bake home to Daddy.

Today's pistachio muffins are delicious with our few changes.  We've had a killer cold spell this past week.  I had picked tangerines for my family before losing them all, so we chose to zest and juice a tangerine instead of lemon.  I'm sure the lemon users are happy, but  the tangerine was a great choice!

And we chose to use blue corn meal rather than yellow.  Thinking of Honey, I thought our muffins might be more colorfully  blue,  but, whatever the color, the taste was great!

The last change we made was to use salted, shelled pistachios.  I had a large bag of this variety that can be purchased at Costco or Sam's in my pantry.  Because they are salted, I omitted the salt in the recipe and the combination was just right...and we liked the flavorful salty nuts on the muffin tops.

 For fun, we also tried out the Baked note:  We sliced a few muffins vertically, then pan-fried them in browned butter.  These were "absolutely" delicious!    (It's a little scary, but Honey wants to do this part too!)


Hope you all enjoyed this muffin recipe as much as we's a keeper, for sure!
                                             Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Friday, January 18, 2013

French Fridays with Dorie: MAKE-UP: Chicken Basquaise

The idea of liver anything is not exciting to me.  I'm up for trying new foods, however, liver is not in the family plan.  I grew up eating liver and onions on many Friday nights like some of my friends grew up eating fish on Fridays...Mother taught us that liver is necessary weekly for healthy iron levels in women and growing children...but my iron is great and I don't eat liver, so it has become an unnecessary food and has also become a bit repulsive...and that included chicken liver!

There, that said, I've chosen a make-up recipe...regretfully, I've missed quite a few during the past year.  I looked at the write-up for Chicken Basquaise and it said, "Make me."  I need to cook dinner for 3 or 4 of my men who will be at home tonight, and this recipe looks inviting.

Somehow what began as a French dinner turned to a Spanish dinner.  Does that ever happen to you?  As I gathered the ingredients, which are all standard items in my kitchen, I had the thought to turn this dish into fajitas.  With onions, peppers, chiles, chicken, and cilantro for a garnish this list begs to be tucked into a warm tortilla with a daube of sour cream, a little cheese, and slices of avocado...and there you have it, delicious fajitas.

Dorie suggests white rice, for serving, but a tortilla is just as good.    

I'll visit your blogs to view your chicken livers with pickled onions, but I'll be enjoying AZ style Chicken Basquaise tonight.

Hope you all have a great week!  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Bananas Foster Fritters

I almost did not get this one done.  Two reasons:  1.  Year end paperwork...just finished quarterly taxes, W-2s and 1099's, etc. and getting ready for "tax season."  It is a crazy time of year!         2.  This week's record breaking freeze.  Bad for Arizona!

I won't elaborate on just takes lots of time and mind power.  Mind power to stay focused and to get it done...not that it's terribly hard.

#2 has taken us by surprise.  It has never been this cold and for this many days in the more than 25 years we've lived in Gilbert, AZ.  This morning at 10 am it was still below freezing...and when I woke up it was only 24^.  Tonight will also be very cold as it will be for the balance of the week.  (I know, most of you are living in real winter, but, believe me, this is bad for AZ.)

We have lots of citrus in our back yard, and this is the time of year we grow our vege gardens.  Our lawns are the prettiest, and many lovely flowers are in bloom.  My roses are incredible.  I spent all last night watering citrus trees to keep them from freezing and Hubby was out all night burning fires under the trees...and we are in a "no burn" week due to bad air I've been anticipating a knock on the door presenting us with a fine.  I built big tents and spent lots of $$ to cover my gardens and I've done everything I know how to do to save our plants and trees.  All day, the weatherman said it will get to 19^ tonight...a temp that calls for giving up, but it was adjusted later to 24^.  Bad, but not as bad.  Because of these temps, the country will pay higher prices for lettuce, etc...AZ is a huge winter lettuce producer among other crops.  (I had fresh herbs growing on a window sill. ...inside the house.  I closed the curtains, leaving the herbs in a space next to the window and shut off from warmth...they froze...dead...done.  That has not happened to me since we lived in Upstate NY.)

And, I always fry outdoors.  Always!  I have a nice area set up where, with a gas burner, I can heat up a pot of oil in less than 2 minutes.  And the mess does not's outside and away from things.  We make French fries, fried chicken, do-nuts, etc. often...but always outside.  But it is too dagnabit cold!

So, I decided I would forget the fritters, and get back into the groove next week.

But after working all day, Hubby and Son #2 made their usual Saturday night run to Trader Joe's and Walmart...for junk food.  They purchased lots of chips and ice cream and decided to skip their usual dozen do-nuts thinking about the lovely fresh orange juice muffins I had made earlier...they would eat muffins instead.  I had glazed the tops with an OJ glaze...they were kinda like do-nuts. But they were disappointed to find, upon returning home, that all the muffins were had appeared a little earlier in the day and had devoured every one.  All gone.  And now, no do-nuts.

But never fear, more junk food was on the way.  Even though it was 9:30 pm, I would do it...I would fry the fritters and I would fry them in the house.  Sacrifice?  No!  They were quick and YUM! and actually very little mess.

I had made thick, buttery, caramely buttermilk syrup earlier and had leftovers.  I used my syrup instead of the rum dipping sauce.  It only took 5 minutes to make the banana fritter batter.  (All mixed by hand, no electric equipment needed.)  My oil heated to 375^ while mixing the fritters.  Quick!  Easy!

Then, just as I was about to plop the first scoop of dough into the frier, in walked my Frolicking Night Owl daughter and her Hubby...came to borrow a movie.  Perfect.  There were just the right amount of fritters for us all.  (I used 4 large bananas and poured in a little fresh OJ...batter was too dry...the bananas seemed a little dry even though quite ripe)  It took less than 5 minutes to fry them the whole process only took about 10 minutes.

A fun Saturday night treat!  I'm sure we'll make these again.  I'm always looking for ways to use up very ripe bananas...and this one is a keeper.  

Hope you all are staying warm!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

French Friday with Dorie: Long and Slow Apples

This might have been a lovely recipe, except for the plastic wrap.  I used Glad Cling wrap and it ruined this baking project.  I carefully peeled and sliced my apples, went to the back yard and picked a fresh orange for its zest, put the other ingredients together and got my apples ready for a "long and slow" oven time.

I wrapped my apple filled ramekins in plastic, as suggested by Dorie, and then covered them, but I should have used my brain.  Plastic in the oven?  I've used plastic wrap marginally in a 175^ oven to give covered bread dough a quicker rise, but I watch it closely and have never gone over 200^.  

I read the Glad wrap package and it suggests only microwave use when heating.  And then only if the wrap is an inch above the food and specifically instructs that plastic wrap is not to be used with sweet/sugary foods, which can cause melting.  Oven use was not even a thought on the directions.

I've just spent the past hour picking off plastic, a real mess, off my ramekins, off my silicone baking mat, and out of my apples.    

The plastic that I found inside  with the apples had originally  started out covering the ramekin tops.  After the 2 hour bake plastic and apples had become one.

After thinking that I had done a pretty good job of picking out the plastic, I tried to taste one of my desserts...UCK!  I had to spit out plastic, which looked like apple, and this dessert has a plastic flavor...not desirable.  

Especially in today's kitchens where we are mindful of bad stuff given off by heated plastics into our foods, this idea of using plastic wrap in the oven seems out of it for several reasons.  Dorie blew it in this recipe.  I'm sure it has worked for her, and maybe it worked for many of you, but it was a huge failure for me.

Lesson learned:  Use my head.  I know better.  I look forward to the French Apple Tart with those of you who bake with the Tuesdays with Dorie and Julia group...I anticipate a better apple experience!

Hope you all fared better that I!  Have a great week.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tuesdays with Julia and Dorie: Pizza with Onion Confit


 Eastern Mediterranean Pizza was on the menu for today's dinner.  This is not your usual cheese and tomato sauce pizza but is topped, instead, with a well seasoned onion confit and can then be topped with olives (my choice), goat cheese, or Parmesan--or any other topping desired.  (I'm certain that an Eastern Mediterranean momma does not use common canned black olives, but we like them at our house.)

The recipe makes enough dough for two large pizzas, but being in a playing mood, I made a double batch of dough, baked the pizza with onion confit, and then made stuffed bread loaves from the remaining dough.  I was worried that my family would not care enough for the onion pizza to fill themselves with that item as main course for dinner.  

Everyone tried the pizza, most liked the flavors, but most also thought it was too rich to eat large slices.

But everyone loved this dough turned into stuffed bread.  I made several loaves filled with provolone cheese, tomato sauce (with some of those lovely onions added), salami and pepperoni.  I gave the loaves an egg wash which held a sprinkling of sesame seeds.  This part of our meal was a hit!

Always fun to try new things.  I think that in mini size today's pizza would make excellent appetizers, but for pizza, I'll stay traditional.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Malted Milk Chocolate Pots de Creme

HUBBY:  Oh my, this is good, this is really, really good!
SON #2:  MMM-MMM Good!  I love all these Whoppers!
Emmie-Lou-Who:  Wow, this is really silky!

Well, the photo looked so much yummier on my camera, but here on my computer I see that this pic does not do justice to this morning's Malted Milk Chocolate Pot of Creme.  Sorry.  But, I promise, this is one of the best, best, best, things I've made over the past few months, including all my holiday baking, and believe me that list includes lots of great goodies!  

And, to think that initially I was disappointed we are using bleah milk chocolate...only dark chocolate lovers understand this point of view.  However....THIS milk chocolate dessert is totally delish and I will make this one over and over and over, I'm absolutely sure!  I wouldn't dream of changing one ingredient even if it was a change for my favorite dark chocolate.  No going 1/2 and 1/ change.

These pots of cream are truly creamy, smooth, silky, and you'll want to eat all 8, not just one...all 2 1/4 cups of heavy cream; not a healthy start for most New Year's Resolutions lists.  I'll also add that even with all the cream and other rich ingredients, these pots of creme are not heavy and they do not have that creamy-buttery residue that can coat the roof of your mouth.  They are elegant desserts that could become my perfect Valentine love offering.

This one's a winner!  I'm interested to see if any of you used a darker chocolate, or it you subbed out some of the cream for milk?  Hope you all have a terrific week!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

French Friday with Dorie: Herb-Speckled Spaetzle

One of the things I like about this group is that I use forgotten gadgets and get things done on my to-do list.

About 10 years ago I found a spaetzle maker in a 1/2 off bin at a going-out-of-business kitchen store.  The sale tag is still attached.  It is by Norpro and cost me 5 bucks.  Years ago we  lived close to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country where we loved to visit especially for the good food.  Our little children enjoyed  spaetzle as a comfort food along the lines of mac 'n cheese.  This noodle-dumpling like side is not easily found in the western states, in fact, I'll bet my neighbors have never heard of it.

The recipe for spaetzle is similar to my pillow-like dumplings that I made recently for my chicken and dumpling soup....right down to the nutmeg.  My recipe is one that was  handed down from my great-grandmother and can be put together in a way similar to today's spaetzle or it can be cooked on the stovetop like cream puff dough, which would be more French, and then added to the broth.  Instead of pushing the dough through small holes to make a fun shape, I portion my dumplings out quickly with a spoon.

Each time I make dumplings I think about getting out my spaetzle gadget, which has never been used until today, but it seems like a hassle.  My tool looks similar to a flat grater, but with larger holes, and I must say that it makes the cutest little noodle-like dumplings.  And it was not a hassle.  It was easy as was the clean-up.  A gadget that actually works on the first try.  Great!

I have my Thanksgiving herbs still growing and looking lovely out in my winter garden so I snipped sage, parsley, rosemary, and thyme which came together with their aromatic flavors and beautiful green color to "speckle" my spaetzle and add great flavor.

In keeping with the German-French theme I cooked sausages and added a couple of veges to make a healthier meal and to add color. 

I'm sure I'll find lots of great dinner ideas among your posts.  We're continuing to enjoy the Holidays as the kiddies are not yet back in school, the decorations are still up, and we continue to enjoy lots of yummy food and treats.  Hope you are also enjoying your week.  Look forward to seeing all your posts!